DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys got through the preseason and training camp with very few injuries to key players. After a season of constantly losing players to injury, there was hope that the bad luck had passed them by.
It took just one game into the regular season for the Cowboys to suffer their first notable casualty. Luckily, it won’t be a long-term thing, but the offense will be without one of its weapons at the receiver position. Michael Gallup, who left the Week 1 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half, is expected to be out a few weeks with a calf injury.
However, even with multiple reports mentioning the injury and timetable for return, Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones wouldn’t confirm any details on Friday in an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. Jones confirmed that the club “won’t comment on injuries until we have our hands on it.”
If Gallup is indeed out for at least the next three weeks, it’s a tough blow for the offense. It’s also a tough break for Gallup as the veteran receiver out of Colorado State is in a contract year and missing time could hurt his case for a big contract, either with the Cowboys or somewhere else.
The contract stuff can be worked out at another time, but for the 2021 season, Gallup’s absence will test the Cowboys’ offense. Gallup might be the third best receiver on the roster, but he’s still one of the better wideouts in the league and serves as Dallas’ top deep threat.
Without Gallup in the lineup, the position takes a step back in talent. Gallup has a 1,000-yard season under his belt and was likely headed for another one last season until QB Dak Prescott was lost for the last 10 games in 2020.
The Cowboys came into the season with the big three at receiver and that will now be the big two until Gallup returns. The good news is that fellow wideouts Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are two of the top receivers in the game, and they will likely see more passes thrown their way. Both surpassed the 100-yard mark and scored against the Buccaneers in the debut loss.
With Gallup out, there is an opportunity as the third receiver in Dallas’ offense. Cedrick Wilson is likely to be the best option, and he got the most opportunities aside from the big three in the season opener.
Wilson caught all three of his targets against the Buccaneers for 24 yards. The 2018 sixth-round pick out of Boise State had a breakout game in Seattle last season, where he caught five passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The talent is there for Wilson, who now has a chance to earn a larger role in the offense.
Noah Brown is another WR who has a chance to step up, but he’s coming off the COVID-19 list. Brown’s best season was in 2020 when he caught just 14 passes for 154 yards. The fourth-year receiver now has an opportunity to play higher up the depth chart.
Without a roster change, the only other option for the Cowboys is rookie Simi Fehoko, who showed in preseason that he needed more work. The fifth-round pick out of Stanford doesn’t look ready, but he was active in the opener against the Buccaneers, so he’ll have his shot too.
None of the options to replace Gallup are good enough to fulfil his role in the Cowboys’ offense long term. Losing Gallup hurts, but the silver lining is that he won’t miss much time and the team has ample weapons to withstand his absence.
Do you think the Cowboys’ offense will be able to maintain its dominance without Michael Gallup? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.